A Nurse’s Story
It’s 3:00 in the morning, I’m wide awake and unable to sleep…again. It’s another morning before I return to the trenches of the Emergency Department as a nurse. As I’m staring at my ceiling I begin to cry with tears of fear. My thoughts begin to race. What will I be walking into today? Will I be safe? Will I get COVID-19 without even knowing it and spread it to my loved ones? The thoughts just keep coming.
Then I stop, reach over to grab my Bible and open it up to Psalm 91. As I start to read this verse, I can feel my heart start to slow down. I know in that moment that anytime I become fearful I will have to return to this verse. In the next few weeks I find myself reading it often, even reading it during a few “spare” moments during my shift. I call it my protection verse, not just protection from the virus but for protection over my fearful thoughts.
The Day Begins
After that restless night, my husband and kids begin to wake up. It’s a brief moment of relief before I leave for work for the day. I say goodbye, tell them I love them, and then I’m out the door. I walk into the ER through the same doors I’ve walked through hundreds of times but now it feels different; it’s an eerie feeling. Everyone has half their face covered, our staff is quiet and at our “huddle” time we start to discuss the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment.)
Personal Protective Equipment
PPE has to be checked out by each department due to the shortage. We are allotted one regular mask for our entire shift, unless it is soiled and/or compromised (i.e. torn.) If we have a patient that is being ruled out for COVID-19 ,we must wear an N-95 mask, a face shield, gown and two pairs of gloves. However, that N-95 mask must be kept for the entire day. We label it with our name and keep it in a paper bag to use later. We wonder when we will eventually run out of PPE supplies and be unable to protect ourselves properly.
Typically, when a patient arrives there is a minimum of one nurse and one EMT at the bedside to help with the various interventions. However, if the patient is in stable condition and has been ruled out for COVID-19, there is only one nurse allowed in the room to decrease exposure to other staff members. The workup can sometimes take one full hour which can be very taxing depending on the patient and it can get very hot due to wearing the PPE. Staff have verbalized feeling faint just from the increase of their body temperatures while wearing the PPE. That being said, we all are in agreement that the protection is worth feeling uncomfortable.
No Visitors Allowed
While this patient is being assessed, we are responsible for caring for three other patients who are often also being ruled out for COVID-19. If a patient requires intubation, many staff members assist in that procedure, which means there is a high risk of exposure. Our hearts race anytime we have to intubate a patient that possibly has COVID-19. The uncertainty of the course of their illness is frightening. These patients also don’t have any family members at their bedside when this occurs, due to the no visitor policy. Patients who are awake prior to intubation are understandably terrified. They don’t have anyone at their bedside that they know; only our staff is present. It’s a devastating situation to be in as a nurse.
Currently, our hospital allows for only two visitors to be present in the event that their loved one is dying. I pray that we can still provide that exception throughout this pandemic. During the last few weeks we have yet to experience the so called respiratory surge that other countries, such as Italy, have experienced. We consistently talk about the “eye of the storm” wondering what may be coming. Our emergency department is normally an extremely busy place but the last few weeks, it’s been a little quieter than usual. So now we prepare and wait. At the end of the long days there is a sigh of relief that we were able to properly care for the patients we received. We had enough ventilators and we had adequate staff. In the next shift we aren’t sure if we will be so lucky.
God is Our Constant Protection
Regardless of what path this situation may lead us to, I know that God is sovereign. He is, and will be, our constant protection. As Psalm 91:14-16 (ESV) says:
14 “Because he holds fast to me
in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
I may be scared at times and I may be concerned about whether or not I will have the proper PPE for the front lines. Despite that fear, however I know that one thing is certain: God is my protector and He is always available to me.
Help Prevent Teen Suicide with our FREE Online Training
Developing Compassion and Awareness
The story from this emergency room nurse can be a wonderful opportunity for you to share with your older and young adult children about what healthcare workers and first responders are facing on a daily basis. It is a great way for you to help your children develop awareness, compassion, and empathy for those on the front lines. Here are some discussion questions that you may wish to use:
- If you were in the healthcare worker’s shoes – how would you feel/react to the situation at hand?
- Do we know any healthcare workers or first responders? (Friends, family, etc.)
- How can we support those we know, and healthcare workers/first responders in general?
- How might you apply the compassion and empathy you feel for the nurse in this article to others around you who are facing difficult situations?
- If you were talking to this nurse, what would you say?
- What would you say to her family members and how might you go about supporting them?
One incredible way that we can support our healthcare workers and first responders is by praying for them.
How We Can Pray For Our Healthcare Workers
Take a moment each day to stop and pray for our amazing healthcare workers and first responders. These brave men and women are constantly on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. They face the virus at great risk to themselves but continue to serve others in order to overcome the COVID-19 virus. Here are some examples of prayers that you can pray over our healthcare workers and first responders. The wording does not need to be exact – God knows our hearts!
Lord, we pray for the protection of each healthcare worker and first responder today as they are in situations that may expose them to the virus. Protect them from any injury or illness they may face. We pray for immunity from disease, and that you would prevent the spread of the virus. We pray that you would provide each worker with the necessary protective equipment that is necessary for treating their patients. For any healthcare worker who has caught the virus, I pray that you would provide healing quickly and completely. We pray that you would protect each family member of these healthcare workers. Please do not allow the virus to be carried into the home or to spread to children, spouses, or parents. We pray your hedge of protection around each healthcare worker and first responder, and the family that is connected to them.
Holy Spirit, we pray that you would bestow the gift of knowledge on each of these healthcare workers and first responders. Give them the knowledge of how to best treat and care for each of their patients. We pray for breakthroughs in treatments that can be used to overcome this virus and ask that they would come soon.
Lord Jesus, we pray that you would give each of our healthcare workers and first responders endurance to run this race. We pray that you would sustain their bodies and spirits. Strengthen them physically and mentally during this time of crisis. Deliver them from anxiety that they may feel about the situation, their families, or their own lives. Help them to be clear-minded in the midst of panic. Give our healthcare workers profound peace in their hearts and let their minds be focused on You.
Lord Jesus, we pray that you would provide financially for our healthcare workers and first responders. Many have spouses who have lost jobs during the quarantine or have become ill themselves and are not able to work. We pray that you would give them peace through these financial stresses and that you would provide for each of them. In Matthew 6:25-34, you tell us not to worry about what we will eat or wear, that you know our every need and will provide for us if we seek after You.
Glory to God
Finally, Father, we ask that you would give each of our healthcare workers and first responders a heart after you. Reveal your compassion and love to them and, in turn, help them to demonstrate that to everyone around them. Help them to be compassionate toward their patients and their families. Give them words of hope to share and help them to exhibit a peace that surpasses all understanding. We pray that you would open opportunities for sharing your love and grace during this challenging time.
We pray these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
If you see a healthcare worker or first responder – even if it is through distancing on social media – be sure to give them an encouraging word and thank them for the difficult work they are doing. They need to hear these things in challenging times. Keeping them in your prayers daily can make all of the difference in times like these.
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.